The beginning of the year marks when everyone tries to become healthier. People attempt new practices that sometimes may be too intense to maintain beyond March. One activity that starts easy and can evolve into something challenging is yoga. This exercise involves stretching, breathing, and movements to connect you with your body. After putting yoga into your routine, the results can be tremendous for your overall health. Jasmine Nicole and Kiyona Miah are the founders of the Black Yogis of South Florida. They share their knowledge of how anyone can start this activity and reap the benefits immediately.
“You can see the benefits of yoga the same day if you’re open to it. Experiences and trauma can get trapped in the body. We don’t often realize how many things we carry daily,” said Kiyona Miah, co-founder of Black Yogi’s of South Florida.
“I’ve seen people be able to release the first time on their mat physically. That looks like them crying, feeling looser, or getting an epiphany about their challenge. All because they could sit long enough to hear it,” said Kiyona Miah, co-founder of Black Yogi’s of South Florida,” said Miah.
Yoga is an ancient and complex practice rooted in Indian philosophy. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, it began as a spiritual practice but has become popular for promoting physical and mental well-being. The Black Yogis of South Florida explain that yoga means yoke or unity in Sanskrit. Through yoga, one unifies breath and movement to build interconnectedness.
“Have you ever seen someone with anxiety and you can see the physical presence of it there? Their nervous system isn’t regulated,” said Jasmine Nicole, co-founder of Black Yogi’s of South Florida.
“What that means is their senses are heightened; they are in this constant state of fight or flight mode because the world has put us on the go. What yoga does is center the body. With continued practice, you can tell when you are not regulated and learn how to pull yourself back to a balanced state of mind,” said Nicole.
The Black Yogis of South Florida assembled in 2022. Their mission is to create safe and inclusive spaces for melanated people to practice and explore yoga. They aim to support black yoga teachers and shine a light on them while also supporting black businesses. Nicole and Miah are transplants from New Orleans, LA, and Baltimore, MD. They met when Nicole tried to find a Yoga Class in Hollywood, FL. Miah was the only Black instructor listed at that location. They became friends and decided to find other Black Yoga groups. Their results had yet to return. They launched this organization as a hub for those wanting to do yoga.
The first tip The Black Yogis of South Florida recommends is an open mind. Beginning yoga with limiting beliefs will prevent you from being immersed in the exercises. Miah explains that people’s first idea of yoga is the challenging poses experienced people do. She describes how simple tasks like meditation and breath work qualify for the exercise.
“People often think of postures, but it’s so much bigger than that. People look on Instagram to see the challenging yoga poses and calisthenics. They might get intimidated by it, but they shouldn’t because that isn’t a full representation of yoga,” said Miah.
A yoga instructor can make or break someone’s experience with the activity. The Black Yogis of South Florida recommends finding an instructor that resonates with you. The duo explains that you should visit their Instagram page or a class or event where they are instructing. Please pay attention to how they lead. The Black Yogis share that yoga is a passion and shines through how the instructor speaks and teaches. The Black Yogis recommends YouTube for Yoga for those who want to practice at home or can’t make it to a studio. Once a month, The Black Yogis host mini-flow Monday. This is a 5-minute session led by a fellow black yoga instructor on the organization’s Instagram.
The Black Yogis express how this activity allows you to pause. The duo can’t state enough how deep breaths can make a difference. For beginners doing Yoga, The Black Yogis want people to focus more on being present and meditating. Silencing the distractions around you or, in their words, focus on the being, not the doing. Nicole and Miah also want those starting their yoga journey to pace themselves and do what they can. Have a level of accountability to know not to push yourself through a yoga exercise you cannot do.
“Have the accountability that it represents love. If your leg can’t go here, or you need to get into a child’s pose when the class is heated. Do that. Hold yourself accountable to take breaths as needed and not try to push yourself through something you’re struggling to do,” said Nicole.